Elmar Umarov (4-1 MMA) has a plan going into his PFL 7: 2022 match-up with Lucas Barbosa (2-1 MMA) on Aug. 5: finish his opponent and sign long-term with the Professional Fighters League; either as a replacement playoff fighter or in the 2023 welterweight tournament.
Barbosa has not had an MMA fight since 2012. In 2018, he has been competing in grappling. Umarov knows his avenue to beating Barbosa is by knockout.
“He’s going to try grappling with me, and he’s going to realize that I’m not bad either,” Umarov told MMASucka. “I’ve been fighting a lot longer than he has. I have to knock him out or I have to do something crazy, because the chances of me submitting him are not too high. But I can knock him out, easy.”
Something crazy, you may ask?
“His last fight was 10 years ago or so,” Umarov answered. “The game has evolved so much, and I’m a student of the game. I have some tricky stuff. Some nice kicks, punches. The plan is to catch him with something.”
Umarov says he hasn’t seen Barbosa compete in MMA yet but has watched his grappling videos. He plans to make Barbosa get “dog tired.”
“I don’t get tired, man,” Umarov said. “I live in St. Louis, and I run six or seven miles every day in this humid weather, bro. My lungs are good. I think he’s going to get tired. I think he’s going to have a hard time taking me down, bro. I have the best takedown defense ever in the welterweight division, no matter what promotion we’re talking about. I’ve been wrestling since I was a little kid. No one is taking me down. Not Barbosa, not nobody. If he wants to shoot, he might land into a flying knee. I might cut him with something or knock him out.”
Umarov admitted he knows he will not submit Barbosa, the BJJ practitioner.
“I’m not dumb. I’m not going to play that game. I’m not going to sit here and say, ‘Yeah, I’m a better grappler,’ because the thing is, I’m probably not. But I have a heart, and I have a bigger will to win. I’ve been in there in fights where I’ve had to dig deep where you get rocked, you get cut, you break your hand. All of that sh– has happened to me already. Everything has happened to me. I got over that hump. Now it’s his turn, and I’m going to drown him. And I’m not just saying this to look cool; I’m really going to do this, for sure.”
— IridiumSportsAgency (@TeamIridiumISA) January 21, 2022
Umarov plans to defeat Barbosa and get into the PFL playoffs as a replacement. And if that doesn’t happen, he would like to sign up for the 2023 tournament.
Umarov was slated to fight Devon Webber at FAC 15 on July 29, but Webber pulled out of the fight, Umarov said. Umarov said he told his manager, Jason House of Iridium Sports Agency, that he needed a fight by Aug. 18.
“A few days later, [my manager] says, ‘Hey, I’ve got an opportunity for PFL if you’re down.’ I said, ‘Sign me up.’ I’ve gotta go. I’ve got to go. I’m 27, almost. I’ve got to make something happen here. This is my time. I’m not going to let this slip through my fingers. That’s not going to happen. If the PFL thinks they’re bringing me in so Barbosa can win, that’s not going to happen. I’m going to knock him out cold, and then I’m going to sign, and we’ll see what happens from there.”
Umarov moved from Russia to Boise, Idaho, in 2005. In 2016, he moved to St. Louis to be closer to family.
Umarov hopes to parlay the win over Barbosa into a bigger opportunity with the PFL. He does not have the “UFC or bust” mentality.
“Not me, I got over that [mentality] a long time ago,” he said. “I was once like, ‘UFC or nothing.’ Hell no bro, show me the money and I’ll be there. Show me the money.”
Umarov and Barbosa are set to throw down at PFL 7: 2022 on Friday, Aug. 5 from the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The card is slated to be broadcast on ESPN.